[Editor’s Note: The following story obviously contains spoilers for “Succession” Season 3.]
Who will ultimately come out on top?
It’s the huge question heading into the final season of HBO’s hit “Succession,” which returns on Sunday night. Season 3 left off with the biggest cliffhanger yet for the drama, with three of the viewers’ favorite Fail Children banding together to finally outmaneuver their father….only for it all to come crashing down.
In IndieWire’s review of the final season, critic Ben Travers wrote: “The final season is here to annihilate you…Amid the ferocious intensity unleashed within many a memorable scene, creator Jesse Armstrong carefully pushes the plot forward…“Succession” is satire unleashed. Its targets are so deplorable no insult is too insulting, yet each mark is instilled with such humanity that every slight still stings. Such righteous censures on the uber-rich and unabashedly privileged are contrasted beautifully by the empathy evoked in understanding how they became who they are and why they do what they do. Similarly, the high emotional intelligence shown in each episode’s construction pairs perfectly with the low-brow vernacular shared by every character.”
With an ensemble this large, we’re hopeful everyone gets their final moment in the spotlight. Below, everything to remember about where we left off with some of the most despicable characters on television (that we just can’t help but love).
By the end of Season 3, Shiv “Pinkie” Roy has unwittingly debased herself. In the penultimate episode “Chiantishire,” her spiky mother Caroline (aka “Scary Poppins”) confesses to her only daughter that she never should have had children. “I should have had dogs,” she says, in one of the episode’s most bitter laughs. Weirdly emboldened or kinked out by her mommy complex, Shiv out of spite tells her heretofore feckless husband Tom Wambsgans that she’s finally ready to have a child. This is after Tom’s season-long attempts to inveigle Shiv into motherhood — and on the cusp of his almost going to prison and wanting womb-based collateral to make sure Shiv would still be waiting for him on the other side of his sentencing as the scapegoat for Waystar Royco’s cruise crimes.
But in typical twisted Shiv fashion — remember in Season 1 when she asked her side piece Nate Sofrelli if she could lay “like a dog at the foot of the bed” in a moment of dejection? — her idea of dirty talk to get Tom in the mood for insemination is to tell him she doesn’t love him and that she’s too good for him. It’s roleplay that tells the truth, and Tom knows it. It’s also the final grain of rice that tips the scale for him to cross over to Logan’s side in the shattering final throes of the GoJo sale. And in the end, it’s Tom who tipped Logan off on the Roy children’s planned revolt against their father, who planned to sell the company without their input and screw them out of any stake in its executive dealings. Shiv turned out to be the architect of her own ruination.
Roman is quietly simpering under his father’s shadow since Dick Picgate saw him humiliate himself in front of the entire Waystar-Royco top brass. In “Chiantishire,” a moment of victory for Roman after convincing both “Hans Christian Anderfuck” GoJo CEO Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) and Logan to agree on a kind of 50/50 split of the company curdles when he accidentally sends a picture of his dick meant for Gerri to his father.
Interim Waystar Royco CEO Gerri was pretty much his only source of romantic-adjacent connection — it’s largely implied throughout the series that Roman is impotent, or at the very least he has some serious ED hang-ups stemming from what else but Mommy Issues — and she provided him a strange kind of motherly comfort, in addition to being a friend, confidante, mentor, therapist, really. But that’s all over now.
For Kendall Roy, when you hit rock bottom, the only thing to do is start drilling through the rock. By the end of Season 3, he’s admitted to his siblings that his attempted coup over his father was a catastrophically epic failure, and he’s also revealed to them his culpability in the manslaughter of a cater waiter while on a bender at Shiv’s Season 1 wedding. There’s really nowhere for Kendall to go but up at this point, having alienated his ex-wife and kids after a disastrously self-indulgent birthday party that included a hallway-sized replica of his mother’s vagina and found him drunkenly sobbing into a pile of presents.
Kendall also basically tried to drown himself after a busted sit-down with his father, who at first accused Kendall of poisoning him (by offering the first bite of their meal to Kendall’s son) and then denied his request for a $2 million buyout in which Kendall hoped to sever himself from his father’s “evil.” That relationship is dead in a ditch, but Kendall is at least back in the good graces of his siblings, who comforted him during a tear-filled breakdown (“I’m all apart”) over his culpability in the waiter’s death. After a season of insufferable narcissism and delusions of grandeur, Kendall is primed for much-needed redemption.
Logan Roy proved what a truly Machiavellian power player and toxic father he is by screwing, at the last minute, his kids out of any company control thanks to an 11th-hour clause adjustment in his divorce agreement shared with Caroline. But he appears to be stepping back from Waystar Royco in a major way (we’ll believe it when we see it) by ceding control to Lukas Matsson, to whom he’s offered the position of CEO so that Logan can meanwhile exit with a settlement while still hovering on the company’s edges in some shadow capacity. He also made the sale to GoJo utterly without his children’s input after seasons of offering up and then killing various succession hopes for his kids at different points. Clearly, Logan sees an end to his reign in play but, of course, it will only be by his own design.
At the end of the day, Logan always wins and will always have veto power over his children, whose bodies he’s plenty happy to step right over in the Season 3 finale’s closing moments. Oh, and there’s also that thing where Logan appears to be, uh, juicing up his sperm with supplements and fruits presumably in order to impregnate his executive secretary Kerry (Zoe Winters), setting up a new Waystar heir? We shall see.
Et tu, Tom? Tom made the biggest move in the Season 3 finale, betraying his brutally dismissive wife Shiv and giving Logan a heads up that the kids were banding together to blow up the GoJo deal. Thanks to that tip, Logan was able to outmaneuver them, leaving the Roy kids devastated and Tom — at least for the moment — riding high. Will he be able to keep that upward momentum given that the final seconds of the finale showed his wife looking like she wanted to murder him? You know what they say about flying too close to the sun.
Elsewhere, Tom had a pretty miserable Season 3. As mentioned above, Shiv repeatedly wanted to put off discussions about having a child together, and he spent most of his time convinced he was the jail-bound “office Christmas tree” that everyone “could hang their corporate malfeasance on.” A bright spot remains his Sporus and Nero-esque relationship with Greg, but as Greg continues to quietly rise it seems likely Tom will get jealous before too long.
Gerri had just one question in the season finale: “How does it serve my interests?” The company woman, out for herself after her seasons-long will they/won’t they with Roman, is seemingly done for good post-Dick Pic-gate.
Gerri has chosen to stick with Logan/Waystar RoyCo as opposed to defecting and helping the kids. She’s also still tied up with making all the FBI/DOJ investigations that plagued the earlier seasons…disappear. Look for her to be circling the GoJo deal and helping that cross the finish line as another feather for her corporate cap.
Greg had some big decisions ahead of him in the Season 3 finale: Should he continue to date various women, or should he throw his lot in with Tom? He chose his once and future captor/love, of course, so expect to see Greg’s stock continue to rise in Season 4 with the kids on the outs with their father and he and Tom in prime position to keep rising with Logan.
The bad news: Connor is, ostensibly, still running for president and failing to make much headway. His siblings didn’t include him in their power play with Dad, so he’s presumably also stuck in the middle of that. But all is not terrible for the eldest son: In the finale, girlfriend/escort Willa (Justine Lupe) finally agrees to marry him, noting he’s “a nice man.”
Will it be wedded bliss for the duo? Almost certainly not, but judging by the Season 4 trailer, they do ultimately make it down the aisle. Cheers!
Last we saw Logan Roy’s arch-rival, media conglomerate Sandy Furness (Larry Pine), he was beset by a mystery illness that turned out not to be syphilis, and he was also setting up a hostile takeover of Waystar-Royco. At the annual shareholder meeting in midseason episode “Retired Janitors of Idaho,” Kendall and Logan attempted to reach a settlement with Sandy’s daughter, Sandi (Hope Davis), and their partner Stewy (Arian Moayed), as leaving the fate of the company up to a shareholder vote would deprive the Roys of their majority power. The company was already on shaky ground up to this point due to the highly public Department of Justice probe into the cover-up of sexual exploitation aboard Waystar cruises.
Yet while Logan fell deliriously ill to a urinary tract infection, Shiv managed to broker an agreement with Sandi that gives both Sandy/Sandi and the Roys an additional board seat. Expect the Sandies to have a significant spot at the table this season.